Electric

I made a project for my wife for Mother’s Day. It was fun. It kind of brought back memories of being a kid and making something for Mom. This project wasn’t macaroni glues to a piece of paper and spray painted. It wasn’t a craft made from yarn. It wasn’t a picture created by my handprint with paint. None of those time honored gifts were made by me this year.

This year I took a piece of board and electrocuted it. That may sound odd, but that’s what we did. I have a friend who has a cool rig that allows for such shenanigans to become art. He took parts from an old microwave and odd bits of scrap lumber to help me create something beautiful.

The process is a bit long, so I’ll skip the detail, suffice to say we let the electricity arc on the surface of the board and it left pretty patterns which we filled with colored epoxy. I then used my Cricut machine to put a verse on it and voila!

God took my broken parts and pieces and made something beautiful. He saw the wreckage of my life and chose to repurpose it rather than throw it out with the garbage. Through recovery I have gone from rubbish to art. He’ll do the same for you too. He sees the future you. He’ll do the hard stuff, you just need..

—Rise Up!!

Shocking!…
Tada!

May the 4th be with You

Yes, I’m a day early, but that’s ok, I’m sure some folks won’t read this on Monday anyhow! For a Star Wars nerd and child of the 70’s such as myself, it’s just too much fun to pass on. it’s even better since my middle daughter was born on such an auspicious date.

Here’s the interesting thing though, she was never much of a Star Wars fan.

How often in life are we presented with opportunities that just don’t strike our fancy? Perhaps it’s a job that we don’t like. Maybe you love your house but hate your neighborhood. It could be the other way around. Who knows? What I do know is that there are plenty of situations that present themselves in my life that aren’t exactly as I would have them. Yet, it is what it is. Step 1 reminds me that my life is out of control and Step 2 teaches that the control lies beyond my grasp. We just need to face life as it is, and not as we would have it. So go out and face the world on this early May Monday morning. Find serenity. May The Fourth Be With You. And…

—Rise Up!!

Up By Stairs

It’s been said that confidence is something that goes up by stairs and comes down in an elevator. Working my steps proves this theory out. Day after day we work to put one foot in front of the next. Slowly, ever so slowly we make and even see some progress. Then comes a trip up which feels like going down on the elevator. Our confidence can flag. People’s opinions of us can diminish. Trust gets broken.

But just because we go down in that elevator does not negate the fact that the stairs are still there. They haven’t been removed. We can go right back to the same place and find them again. And when we find them we can use them. And as we use them again, we learn that we have more skills since the last time we trudged up. In fact, the more we climb those stairs, the stronger we get.

Have you found yourself on an elevator? Push that “Open Doors” button and find the stairs. Get off and…

—Rise Up!!

VAR

Video Assistant Referee, it’s the bane of many soccer matches on any given day. Look, I get that many, if not most (all?) of you don’t really care about soccer, but trust me, I’m going somewhere here.

My team in the English Premier League is Arsenal (for now, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish!). We play on weekends and since the games take place in jolly old England, it often means getting up rather early to watch a game. Yesterday we had a 5:30am kickoff.

I know that me getting up early, putting on my lucky clothes (which don’t get washed unless we lose), and parking in front of the tv guarantees absolutely nothing, but still, I feel like I deserve a win after that kind of Herculean effort.

My day started with a quiet celebration of an early goal. I was very happy, but the rest of the house was still sleeping, so I kept a lid on it. Then VAR threw a wet blanket in the festivities. It’s seems, upon review, that one of our players had a toe in an offside position before we scored. Seriously, a toe, not the whole foot, just a toe. Now instead of being up 1-0, we were back to a tie.

The whole thing with VAR is that it is supposed to fix “clear and obvious errors” in the game. I agree that the rule says that a player’s entire body must be behind the defender, but when everything has to be done in stop time footage with computer lines to see that one toe when over the line we have broken the spirit of the game.

In recovery (now he’s back on track…) we can often fall under the scrutiny of other people and their VAR. People love to monitor our activity and see how it matches up to their opinions. It can be discouraging at times. But one overturned call does not need to set the tone for the rest of the game.

We got “robbed” by VAR at the beginning of the match, but with about 60 seconds left we scored a goal to tie the game. It wasn’t the final result that we hoped for, but we made the best of the situation. Don’t let the VAR folks in your life bring you down. They serve a purpose. Just put your head down and…

—Rise Up!!

Jackhammer

Today is my first Monday back after 5 beautiful weeks in Hawaii. That’s not to say that Ridgecrest isn’t beautiful, it’s just not Hawaii beautiful. Today in Ridgecrest just happened to be gorgeous, most spring days are.

My plan today was to take my friend over to a house and bust out a concrete slab for another friend. They were supplying me with a jackhammer, I had a helper, and it was I ly about 2 yards of concrete to bust out. I did the thing you never do: I told my helper that this would be easy. “We’re going to be out of here by 10.” Right now it’s 5pm and I’m in the shower dictating this post to my wife so I can get ready in time for my 6:00 step study. So much for easy!

Everything started out fine but about 10 minutes into the job the jackhammer decided it was time for a break. It became as fickle as a kid in a candy store; it didn’t know what it wanted and it couldn’t decide what to do. This job is a Step 12 “giving back” kind of job. No money is being exchanged, it’s just me trying to give back.

As I worked I remembered I hadn’t written the blog. I kept thinking to myself “You better find a way to rise up”. Eventually with the help of my brand new sledge hammer and pick ax, a helpful visit from my two oldest grandsons, and a whole lot of hard work we got done.

It would have been much easier to walk away. After all, this was not a paying job so I wouldn’t lose out on a paycheck. But that’s not what Step 12 is about and that’s not what recovery’s about. We’re giving back not taking off.

My hands are sore. My feet are sore. I have several blisters that I didn’t have this morning. I’m worn out and exhausted. But boy oh boy, did I ever…

—Rise Up!!

Goodbyes

Tomorrow is gonna be a tough one. We leave Hawaii after five weeks on the island. Five weeks with our kids. Five weeks with our grandsons (albeit only three with Camden since he’s just 19 days old today!). It’s not going to be easy to board the plane and fly home.

Yet that’s what has to happen tomorrow. Life moves on and we can’t just stay here forever, believe me, I’ve tried to figure out how to make that happen. But I realize that trying to make the impractical become reality is just living in denial. Instead of focusing on the goodbye and what I’m leaving behind, I choose to look at the hellos that follow. I’m going back to other kids. I’m going back to even more grandchildren. I’m going back to people that I miss at home. Plus, I’ll be back here in June.

No, moping for the next 24 hours is silly. I need to keep my mind focused on the promise of the future. Sure, I’ll miss what’s here, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have wonderful things elsewhere. It might take a big plane with a Hawaiian lady painted on the tail, but through tomorrow’s sadness I will…

—Rise Up!!

High 5

A friend said something to me the other day that was pretty thought provoking. They said that we are the average of our 5 closest friends. That really got me to thinking about who those friends are. I also thought a lot about who they have been. That group has changed tremendously over time, yet there are also some stalwarts who have remained for almost 50 years.

I guess the important thing to also consider is how do I rank in other people’s Five? Am I bringing the average up or am I dragging down the curve? I always liked tests that were graded on a curve because I knew that there were people who would drag down the average so that I didn’t have to work as hard to do well. That’s a bad way to assess life.

I need to do what I can to bring up the average. I hope that I am the top side of someone’s Five. I also need to assess my own group and make sure I don’t bring people into that group just to make life “easier”.

Look around and count your five. Make sure those people help you to…

—Rise Up!!

Eagles and Crows

I recently heard about the eagle and the crow. It is said that the only bird that dares peck the eagle is the crow. All other birds are afraid of the powerful eagle, but the crow will land on the eagle’s back and peck at its neck. Apparently eagle does not fight back. Instead it takes flight with the crow on its back. It simply flies higher and higher. As it gains altitude the air gets thinner. The eagle is built for higher altitudes and can handle the lack of oxygen, but the crow cannot. Eventually, without a fight, the crow has to let go and fly back to a more comfortable altitude and the eagle is free of its tormentor.

Recovery is full of crows pecking at our necks, but we are all eagles. We don’t need to accept the torment of our hurts, hang ups, and habits. We don’t need to flail at the addictions and sins that try to trip us up. we need to trust that God made us better and soar higher than those troubles. When addiction comes to peck at your neck, get out of your nest and…

—Rise Up!!

Walks in the Rain

Spending time in (on?) the island of Hawaii is a wonderful thing. I’ve been here in the past so this trip is not so much about “getting out” or “doing things” as our previous visits have been. It’s kind of a good thing too, because in our almost two week stay now, we rarely seen the sun. Going to the beach just hasn’t been a thing.

I commented on Instagram that the first step in making a jungle is to get a lot of rain. So far this trip we’ve had over 20 inches of rain. That’s almost 3 years worth for my hometown of Ridgecrest! Yes, it’s been a wet trip thus far.

So what do we do in such circumstances? We go out and enjoy the rain, that’s what! Saturday we took a drive and did some nature watching. We went to a town on the other side of the island that has an absolutely amazing playground. Even though it was raining, my grandson had a blast and played for the better part of a half hour before getting cold and tired. Yesterday we went down to walk around at Lili’ukalani Park at Hilo Bay. We just walked in the rain and enjoyed the beauty. We decided not to let the weather get us down, instead we used it to…

—Rise Up!!

(Extra God note: as I finished the last 3 sentences I was straining to see because the sun came up and is shining right and bright in my eyes. God is so good!)

Luc riding in style in the rain.

143

I’m sitting in Hilo and thinking about rain. The annual rainfall here is around 143 inches. That’s about 20 times what we get at home in the desert. It’s crazy. Yesterday I watched a sudden deluge create a pond at the back patio of my daughter’s house. Then literally minutes later the rain subsided and the pond had disappeared. This pattern continued all afternoon and into the night. At home we would have been up to our knees in the house with water, but here, nothing. Just the sound of rain falling down.

When you’re prepared for things, crises can be more easily averted. When you are equipped for a problem it can become a puzzle instead. The challenges of life will still exist, but if you are ready for success, you will probably find success.

Work your steps. Talk to your accountability partners. Reach out to friends. Let it rain and…

—Rise Up!!